FRIB cryoplant complete, on track to operate in 2018

Due to the focused efforts of its staff, the FRIB cryogenic plant was completed in December 2017. It is now operational, and is on track to operate in 2018. This is a significant milestone for the FRIB Project because the cryoplant makes cold helium, which is critical to operating FRIB’s linear accelerator.

FRIB’s beam-accelerating cryomodules contain superconducting radio frequency cavities that must operate at temperatures hundreds of degrees below zero to be superconducting. The cold helium will make the cavities superconducting.

In a significant step leading to the plant’s completion, the FRIB cryogenic plant made its first liquid helium at 4.5 kelvin (K) in November 2017.

Now the plant’s system utilities are in place, and the commissioning and performance testing of the warm compressor is finished. Acceptance tests for the 4 K cold box were successfully completed. The cold box met the performance modes required by contract: maximum capacity, maximum liquefaction, and maximum refrigeration.

 FRIB’s two cryogenic cold boxes (the upper and lower cold boxes) work in tandem to cool helium to extremely low temperatures. The upper cold box lowers the temperature from 300 degrees K to 60 K. The lower cold box serves as the second step in the helium-cooling process, dropping the temperature from 60 K to 4.5 K.

To build the cryoplant, FRIB staff collaborated with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab), applying the experience and lessons learned at JLab.

 FRIB also established the MSU Cryogenic Initiative with the MSU College of Engineering. The initiative is a component of MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship program. Large-scale cryogenic systems is one of the four focus areas of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 traineeship grant solely award to MSU.

Learn more about the FRIB cryoplant and the MSU Cryogenic Initiative in the MSU Establishes Cryogenic Initiative at FRIB article in Cold Facts, a publication of the Cryogenic Society of America, Inc.